Do you have Postpartum Depression? In the weeks and months following the birth of a baby symptoms may include depression, fatigue, crying, anxiety, helplessness, strange thoughts, poor appetite, and night sweats. It’s supposed to be one of the happiest times of a woman’s life but Postpartum Depression makes it debilitating.
A client came to see recently me for weight loss and mood. She was depressed, couldn’t lose weight, felt exhausted all the time, was constipated, and her hair was falling out by the handful. She told me she was also seeing her physician for Postpartum Depression. The first question I asked was if she’d recently had her thyroid checked. All her symptoms are common for low thyroid which is often the cause of Postpartum Depression. My client went back to her doctor and asked for a thyroid test. Her TSH was 7.8. She was being treated for Postpartum Depression with an antidepressant when what she needed was to normalize her thyroid. Thankfully her physician immediately put her on thyroid medication and she no longer required an SSRI.
We need to look at the whole woman and all her symptoms or conditions get missed. Many women fall through the cracks of the heavily burdened medical system. This is why as a dietitian I take my time with clients and spend most of it listening.
Here are my top 6 nutritional nuggets for new mommies:
1) Postpartum depression is often due to low thyroid levels. Women should have a TSH below 2.0. Women who have TSH above 2.0 have higher risk of postpartum depression. Before turning to antidepressants get your thyroid numbers checked.
2) Before the decision to take an antidepressant talk to your doctor about supplemental Progesterone Cream. The use of progesterone for the treatment of postpartum depression can be dramatic. For further reading and more.
3) Low vitamin D is associated with depression. Get your vitamin D3 checked. This is not a regular blood test that your doctor will automatically order; you have to ask for it specifically and pay approximately $40. It is well worth the money when it comes to mommy mood. For further reading.
4) To lose the baby weight many women follow a low-carb regime and end up with greater depression. You must get enough of the right kinds of carbohydrates and nutrients for your brain to make the “happy chemical” – serotonin. Our brains need complex carbohydrates to allow tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and make serotonin. A dietitian can help you determine a plan that helps you lose the baby weight while supporting your brain chemistry.
5) We know that depression is linked to low magnesium, B6, B12 and folate. When choosing a multivitamin it’s important to keep in mind factors specific to postpartum. For example, Copper levels can double during pregnancy and can take three months to decline post-delivery; some studies suggest that elevated copper levels are associated with Postpartum Depression. Prebiotics, probiotics, and healthy oils are all important for brain chemistry. Talk to your health care professional regarding the multivitamin you are taking postpartum. Sometimes your prenatal supplement is not good for postpartum.
6) Recent research indicates that inflammation underlies depression. To reduce inflammation eat fermented foods like tempe, natto, pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots, and avoid refined oils and sugar. For further reading.
How are you coping with being a new mom? Any words of wisdom for other moms?